Top 7 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Puff Up

Much like the hair that stands up on a cat’s tail or a dog baring its teeth… bearded dragons puff up their beards to typically show aggression towards someone or something.

By making their beard black and puffing up, a bearded dragon is essentially trying to intimidate something they feel is threatening to them.

However, often times bearded dragons can puff up without their beard turning black at all!

And in these instances, they may often seem to be happy or in an environment where there is nothing threatening whatsoever.

In fact, with dragons displaying this confusing behavior both during stressful and non-stressful situations, it begs the question, just why do bearded dragons puff up exactly?

Why is My Baby Bearded Dragon Puffing Up?

If your baby bearded dragon is puffing up and going all black beard, it could simply be due to the fact that they’re just not 100% acclimated and adjusted to their new habitat and/or you quite yet.

If you believe this to be the case, fret not.

Bearded dragon puffing up

As long as their setup is right and you’re feeding them appropriately, this will likely pass with a little time.

Try bonding with your beardie slowly by offering them food from your hand or even talking sweetly to them.

They’ll come to realize you’re a friend not a foe in no time.

Now, if you notice your baby seeming lethargic, not wanting to eat, not going to the bathroom, and puffing up and black bearding… you may want to seek out the opinion of a reputable bearded dragon vet.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Have a Puffed-Up Belly?

Beards aren’t the only body part a dragon can puff up! Some bearded dragon owners have noticed their dragon’s stomachs puffing up during the following occasions…

Bearded Dragon Puffing Up in Bath

Bearded dragons should never be put in a bath above their shoulders, as they can potentially take in too much water and drown.

Now, with this being said, bearded dragons have occasionally been seen to puff up in their bath in an attempt to float!

Bearded Dragon perched on rock in bathtub

Bearded Dragon Puffing up When Eating or After a Meal

There isn’t too much research on why some bearded dragons puff up while eating or after a meal, so the general consensus is that it’s simply because they’re full or trying to make room to eat more.

If they’re “hunting” live feeders, it could also be their attempt at looking menacing.

Why is My Bearded Dragon Puffing Their Beard While Basking?

As aforementioned, whether you should be concerned about your bearded dragon’s puffing has a lot to do with whether or not their beard is black.

Dragons puffing up isn’t always out of aggression, fear, or discomfort and as such, often times shouldn’t be worried over.

They’re Getting Ready to Shed 

Bearded dragons can sense when an upcoming shed is near and as such, can often times try to hurry the process along.

This can involve puffing up in an attempt to loosen some skin.

If you notice waxy or dull-looking skin around his or her head, then an upcoming shed is likely the culprit behind the puffing up.

bearded dragon shedding

They’re Showing Off 

Some owners have actually found their dragons to puff up as a sign of happiness and have attributed it to them “showing off”. How funny!

If your beardie seems happy and healthy and puffs up a little during their favorite activity, then consider taking it as a compliment that you’ve raised a happy (not to mention confident) little dragon!

They’re Stretching

Opening their mouth wide, puffing up their chest and beard… all potential signs that your dragon is simply trying to stretch their neck muscles a little.

They’re Trying to Pressurize Their Ear Canals

Seriously. Just as we might yawn to try and “pop” our ears while climbing elevation, bearded dragons can open their mouth to try and relieve small pressure too.


It is important to remember that just because your dragon is puffing up, it doesn’t mean that something is necessarily wrong or that there should be cause for concern.

Pay attention to your dragon’s beard and watch whether it turns black or not and then consider what around them could be causing it.

If your dragon’s beard doesn’t turn black and they only puff up on occasion, chances are it’s simply for one of the normal aforementioned reasons.


8 thoughts on “Top 7 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Puff Up”

  1. My bear die was doing fine, friendly and didn’t blow up all the sudden in 1 day he started blowing up hissing and opening his mouth, also tuning like he is trying to hide from me. What could be wrong? Please help.

  2. I’ve noticed since the weather has changed and gotten colder (brumation season!) my beardie just doesn’t want to be bothered all that much. So sometimes he’ll puff up and then retreat to his hiding place and go back to sleep. I still stick to lights on through the day and off at night with just a heat omitting lamp that stays on always as to still mimic night and day while also providing some good heat to him. He’s ten months, steadily growing, and my baby! <3

  3. This was extremely helpful because I am new to owning a bearded dragon and it seems like he is happy and comfortable and there is nothing to worry about! SO helpful because I thought something was wrong!

    • Hi,

      As explained in our article, this often happens because the bearded dragon is not acclimated to their environment yet. How long has your beardie been doing this? It should ideally be temporary.

      -Reptile Guide team


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